Sep 20, 2011 at 1:13 pm #1279571
I am currently doing some food planning for a few upcoming 3 or 4 day no stove trips (burn/open flame bans). I sucked it up and ordered some prepackaged add-cold-water items for large meals (e.g., Packit Gourmet hamburger), but this whole process (and my wallet) has led me to the conclusion that I need to just go ahead and get a dehydrator. Besides, I love to cook and to tinker with my food and with recipes – it's probably more reasonable for me to put this stuff together myself.
I would much rather get a nice, full-featured dehydrator that will function well, allow me to try lots of methods, make big batches sometimes, and last a long time even if more expensive (as opposed to a cheaper smaller one that I might get frustrated with quickly as I try to experiment with pushing limits – I tend to be adventurous. :D).
I have poked around on this forum to get some ideas (I like the look of the larger one recommended in Dehydrating 101, for instance), but I would really appreciate it if I could get some brand and model recommendations/thoughts (and features I probably don't know about) to help me in my decision making…
Any advice would be appreciated!!!Sep 20, 2011 at 1:46 pm #1781273
Looks aside the big players all work well and can come down to how much you want to pay ;-) Nesco, Lequip, Excalibur are all good for the most part.
It never hurts to buy the best you can though – and get the model that does the most.
Like for me….I don't use my dehydrator for everything but I love that I can do odd things – fancy rice, pasta, artichokes, olives, etc – the things I cannot get easily or cheap (although http://www.frontiercoop.com/ is a great source for dried veggies and so is http://www.harmonyhousefoods.com)
My baby these past couple years has been a Lequip – but I also love the style of it – it isn't a big ol' circle ;-)Sep 20, 2011 at 1:52 pm #1781275
@redmonkLocale: Greater California Ecosystem
Good4U : Timer, Thermostat, Not a circle, Not expensive.
I've had mine for years, no problems.Sep 20, 2011 at 8:24 pm #1781435
Kristin… an adjustable thermostat is a must-have on any unit
If you are looking for something under $100 go with a Nesco but choose a model that has at least 500 W of power, a thermostat and a top fan.
If you plan to do a lot of this and want to spend a little more then I recommend the Excalibur 3926T with a full set of the Paraflexx sheets.
I have had both Nesco and Excalibur units and they've all served me well. My Nesco FD75 is still going strong as is the FD50 I had before that (it's now being used by my sister for making potpourri, jerky and drying herbs).
The biggest advantages to the Excalibur are drying times and the timer function but you are looking at more substantial investment.Sep 20, 2011 at 8:26 pm #1781436
@elf773Locale: Vancouver, BC
Upon recommendations from one of the ladies on here, I bought this Nesco from Amazon . I think I paid about $45 for it shipped.
It's pretty simple and straightforward to use. You can dehydrate soups/stews, etc. I have pretty simple needs though, as I only currently do ground beef, carrots and peppers but I'm sure it'll work for the majority of stuff people use dehydrators for.Sep 20, 2011 at 9:13 pm #1781457
I have an Excaliber 5 tray. I think it's $190 on amazon. This is the only dehydrator I've used, so my opinions are probably biased. that being said, the Excaliber has performed very well. The fan is at the back of the unit, so all trays dry evenly. I also have the Excaliber dehydrating sheets. These are nice if you are doing something like sauce, but parchment paper will do the job just as well. I've used mine now for a little over 2 years. If it lasts me many more years, then it was worth the extra money.
Note: I usually dehydrate whole meals (everything together), so dehydrator sheets (or multiple parchment papers) are a necessity due to sauces on most of my meals.Sep 20, 2011 at 9:38 pm #1781469
te – waParticipant
keep in mind, some dehydrators have a fan that blows down across several trays, thus making the process take longer, and may cross-interfere with tastes. (apricots and jerky at the same time…not a good idea for this type)
others even have a fan and mechanical parts in the bottom, blowing up.. which is difficult to clean.
Excalibur has a fan in the rear, which blows across the trays and has less chance of getting dirty, and cross-contaminating food tastes.
that's where i put my money.Sep 21, 2011 at 8:12 am #1781568
Scott… that's the FD75. It has been a really great little dehydrator and survived my abuse. When writing the first book it got 10 times more use than the average person would give it (I test every recipe I create at least 3 times – and it dried a load of food). Beyond backpacking, I use it to make organic fruit treats, fruit roll-ups, carrot-muffin tasting rollups and yogurt rollups for my son's school lunches. I've also used the FD 75 to incubate homemade yogurt and kefir. Totally over-used the thing.
The one other benefit of Excalibur is that you can adjust the height/space between the trays which means you can dry things like whole peppers easily.Sep 22, 2011 at 8:07 am #1782062
I received one for Christmas a couple of years ago; it works like a charm. We've dehydrated soups, fruits, made jerky and I just recently made a few batches of fruit rollups using the leather trays. Just make sure that you spray those leather trays before you use them, raspberry/blueberry leathers are a pain to remove if you don't.
JessSep 23, 2011 at 8:21 am #1782513
You don't need to spray the trays. Here's a little tip. Just pop them in the freezer for 10 to 30 minutes. The tray and leather expand and contract at different rates and the leather will just pop off. Rick Carey at Nesco gave me the tip a few years back and I was skeptical but it worked like a charm!
LaurieSep 23, 2011 at 11:11 am #1782593
Parchment paper pops leathers off immediately with no fuss, no mess and no wrecking fingernails to get it off…….and you'll never stain a tray again.Sep 23, 2011 at 2:05 pm #1782694
Thank you so much for all the suggestions. I have some shopping to do! :DSep 23, 2011 at 2:11 pm #1782701
+1 on Nessco fd75
If you keep checking Amazon prices sometimes you can get great prices on these. When I bought mine the price seemed to go up and down frequently.Sep 23, 2011 at 2:30 pm #1782710
On Amazon you can do the price watching via camelcamelcamel.com – and then know when it is hitting the price you want!Sep 23, 2011 at 2:42 pm #1782715
Never heard of that – will have to try it! Thanks! (All for a good price!)Sep 23, 2011 at 5:19 pm #1782804
I think it is a plugin on Firefox that you can set up (and maybe Chrome??). Anyhow, I love it! I set up "watchs" on items I want. I am currently waiting for an item to come down in price – it gives you graphs of the highs and lows for each product. This item I want (and am in no rush for) drops 2-3 times a year by $50!!Sep 29, 2011 at 10:11 pm #1785104
A timely thread for me .. been thinking about a dehydrator, but mainly I just want to make 'instant' pasta sauce: nothing really elaborate, just want the stuff I buy in a jar at the supermarket, in dried form. Do I need an expensive unit to do this or will the model above suffice ?
Sorry, I don't mean to hijack the OP's thread.Sep 29, 2011 at 10:51 pm #1785110
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
Most sauces like that will dehydrate well in any unit. Just make sure that the dehydrator tray has a non-stick sheet in it. Most of them have at least one sheet.
In fact, most foods like that with a high water content will dehydrate nicely.
Sometimes I dehydrate plain tomato sauce, and I get a thin sheet of red leather out of it. I crop that up into small pieces, then load them into a plastic bag to take on the next trip. Something like that might grow mold over a long period of time, so I do long-term storage inside the refrigerator.
–B.G.–Sep 30, 2011 at 7:38 am #1785154
You don't "need" a pricey dehydrator – basically the money just buys more bells, whistles and looks (just like a car!). A basic Nesco with a fan and adjustable temp setting will get you by just nicely!
Take the savings and buy a roll o' parchment paper (any grocery store, next to the saran wrap). It will help you release those dried sauces quickly and without any staining.
PS: on jarred sauces – avoid those high in fat and those with corn syrup of any form. Corn syrup, especially HFCS, are poor driers…….and usually are lesser quality sauces as well.Sep 30, 2011 at 8:12 am #1785167
@aaronmbLocale: Central Valley California
"" A basic Nesco with a fan and adjustable temp setting will get you by just nicely!""
Definitely. Watch for sales and/or coupons while you're shopping around. With a coupon from Bed, Bath & Beyond, I think I paid about $30 for a decent Nesco.Sep 30, 2011 at 12:15 pm #1785240
@b-g-2-2Locale: Silicon Valley
"PS: on jarred sauces – avoid those high in fat and those with corn syrup of any form. Corn syrup, especially HFCS, are poor driers…….and usually are lesser quality sauces as well."
That's why I often dry my tomato sauce plain without the fats and sweeteners. Then when I get the dry stuff to camp and prepare dinner, that is when the olive oil and other ingredients will show up. I can just control the mix better.
–B.G.–Oct 6, 2011 at 12:15 pm #1787394
It always amazes me that they put things like corn syrup in sauce… um… sauce doesn't need sugar unless you are using sub-par tomatoes.
A poster mentioned that parchment paper won't stick and that's not necessarily true. A friend purchased some parchment paper that was named "Multibake" at a discount store in the US and had nothing but issues with food sticking to it. It's better to spend a little more and stick to a good name brand for parchment such as Wilton or Reynolds.Oct 6, 2011 at 12:25 pm #1787405
One reason to stay out of dollar stores is cheap junk from China……Multibake sounds like a cheap ripoff one would fine at Dollar Tree.
Grocery stores in the US usually sell Reynolds or Martha Stewart branded and it is the real stuff.
Then again…I don't buy off brand cooking supplies (store brands are not off-brand, I am talking stuff at dollar stores and similar).Oct 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm #1787499
exactly… knowing Shelley it would have been a dollar store in Messenna NY. I find the Loblaws (Canadian chain) no name brand is really great. I'm the same with other cooking supplies and utensils. Ziploc, Glad, Wilton, Kitchen Aid, Cuisinart… you get the picture. Bryan has a saying "you can't afford the cheap stuff".Oct 7, 2011 at 6:05 am #1787656
Thanks all for the recommendations. I picked up an FD-75 and made some pasta sauce "leather" :)
Curious to know your preferences on rehydrating this sort of thing in the backcountry. Toss it in with the pasta as it's cooking, or add hot water to the ziploc it's stored in?
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